Aggressive poker players fall between two extremes – tight and loose – and at either end of these distinctions you will find exceptionally difficult competitors to play against. However, they do have their weaknesses, and by exploring their strengths, one can discover where they are left wanting when it comes to being the all-round, complete poker player.
The best of the world’s player are frequently “Tight Aggressive” (TAG) or as we like to call them Bulldog Poker Players. They enter very, very few hands, and only when they know that they have an edge – either in the quality of the premium hand that they hold or from their position against a weak table – will they bet with strength. They have outstanding patience, are aware of pot odds and expected value and are nearly always profitable at full ring games.
Their style of play leaves very few flaws in their game; however they can be vulnerable to tight passive players or “slow players”, and also run the risk of being blinded out when a Sit ´n´ Go or tournament becomes short-handed, due to the minimal number of hands they contest. The best way of dealing with an extremely tight aggressive player is to fold whenever you see them enter a hand. It will not be that frequently, as they play so few, so there will be plenty of other opportunities to get involved at a later stage.
Loose Aggressive players are easily identifiable. They are the “bullies” who come to the table with the biggest stacks, raise pre-flop on most hands, try to steal blinds from out of position and generally inhibit other players from playing their own game. In some respects, this is a successful strategy, but rarely is it profitable in the long-term. Bullies tend to be more commonly found on short-handed tables where the possibility of somebody drawing a premium hand is lower, and will win large or lose larger when somebody takes them on.
It is their habit of gambling against the odds which is the Achilles Heel of the loose aggressive player. Their aim is to acquire more money when they are on a winning streak than they will lose should the cards fall against them, and they can inflate or demolish your bankroll (and their own) within a matter of hands. But, similar to their tighter counterparts, loose aggressive players are also vulnerable to passive players taking a pot at showdown.
The most difficult players to read are the most accomplished – those who can be tight aggressive through the early stages of a competition, and then strike out once in the bubble. Conversely, you may consider a player to be over aggressive in the early confrontations, only to find that once they have established a chip lead at a table, they tend to play significantly tighter. Ideally you will watch for these trends and be able to take advantage of them when the opportunity is presented.